Federal Drug Indictments Deliver Results
MAR 16 – Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Sherri F. Strange of the Atlanta Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and United States Attorney J. Strom Thurmond Jr. of the District of South Carolina announced the arrests of 16 defendants following the return of two sealed indictments by a federal grand jury sitting in Columbia, SC. The indictments were returned February 18, 2004 and name 19 individuals accused of federal conspiracy charges. These charges were the result of a two-year investigation conducted by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF unit is comprised of agents from the DEA, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division (IRS-CID), Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD), and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
On March 3, 2004, over 100 law enforcement officers from various federal, state and local agencies were tasked with executing 19 arrest warrants and 11 search warrants at locations throughout the Midlands area of South Carolina. Thus far, the case has yielded the seizures of approximately three and one half kilograms of cocaine, 18 guns, properties worth over $1.6 million, $100,000 in U.S. Currency, several bank accounts, 25 vehicles, and the inventories of two retail liquor stores.
“The success of this investigation is due to the joint efforts put forth by OCDETF. Through the sharing of intelligence and resources, the law enforcement community has been able to shut down the operations of this organization, making a positive impact on the Midlands area of South Carolina,” said SAC Strange.
The investigation focused on the multi-kilogram cocaine trafficking and money laundering activities of more than one group. As a result, several sources of supply were identified, including a Jamaican cocaine group that smuggled their contraband from Jamaica to Columbia, SC, via FedEx deliveries of Compact Discs (CDs). During the course of the investigation, agents seized cocaine that was compressed and placed in heat sealed bags within CD cases. The government also seized a vehicle equipped with an electronic hidden compartment. The compartment was designed within the vehicle’s door panel and utilized by the Jamaican organization to transport their drugs domestically. Investigators determined that the traffickers were moving significant quantities of money and used Western Union to wire transfer approximately $600,000 for purchases of cocaine and marijuana.
The defendants listed below have been indicted and arrested:
The following defendants have been indicted and are currently federal fugitives:
The public is reminded that an indictment is an accusation of criminal conduct. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law. Assistant United States Attorneys Jane Taylor, Leesa Washington, Mark Moore, and Robert C. Jendron will prosecute all charges stemming from this ongoing investigation in Columbia, SC.